LGBT Soccer Fans Warned to “Not Publicly Display Sexuality” Ahead of Russia World Cup

Trans attendees are specifically encouraged to beware of attacks in bathrooms.

LGBT soccer fans are being cautioned about a potentially homophobic environment at the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, a country with a history of anti-LGBT discrimination.

In a warning issued by the Football Supporters’ Federation, an organization representing the rights of soccer fans throughout England and Wales, LGBT World Cup attendees have been encouraged to “not publicly display their affection,” Outsports reports.

“Although same-sex sexual activity has been decriminalized in Russia since 1993, it is strongly understood and advised that you do not publicly display your sexuality,” writes the FSF in a recent statement, “but this is up to the individual. With any trip abroad it is essential to understand your destination’s cultural and ideological beliefs. Whilst often you are able to behave as you would in the UK, certain things must be treated with caution in societies less tolerant than back home.”

In addition to these suggestions, trans attendees are specifically encouraged to have others accompany them to the bathroom in case of any attacks.

The warning references Russian president Vladimir Putin’s controversial anti-gay legislation, including the so-called “gay propaganda” law banning the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations” to minors.

Olly Greenwood/AFP/Getty Images

Those attending the World Cup in Russia were similarly warned last year that it will not be safe for same-sex couples to hold hands there in public.

Despite the nation’s anti-LGBT policies, prominent Russian LGBT leaders will set up a Pride House for LGBT attendees in host city St. Petersburg.

A recent survey found that 39% of Russians believe it is “likely or highly likely” that LGBT foreigners will be targeted for attacks during the tournament, and about 13% of Russians are “irritated” by the presence of LGBT foreigners.

Europe’s leading anti-discrimination soccer network, FARE, is also preparing a guide that “will advise gay people to be cautious in any place which is not seen to be welcoming to the LGBT community.”

The World Cup tournament begins June 14 and culminates July 15 at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.

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